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Weekend Workshop: How to easily build a DIY hand-powered LED flashlight

how to make hand powered torch
Need something to keep you busy this weekend? We’ve got you covered. The Weekend Workshop is our weekly column in which we showcase a badass DIY project that you can complete with minimal skills and expertise. We’ve dug through all the online tutorials and gone the extra mile to pinpoint projects that are equal parts easy, affordable, and fun. So put on your work pants, grab your tool belt, and head to the garage. It’s time to start building!

You never quite realize how critical a proper LED flashlight is until you absolutely need one. Making things worse, buying spare batteries is something a lot of us forget to do in this age of rechargeable devices, so a simple AA swap isn’t always an option. However, what is an option is using some old-fashioned elbow grease to boot up that handy light in a mere matter of minutes.

Thanks to some tinkering, an Instructables user by the name of Robo Hub created a hand-powered LED flashlight. With nothing more than an old soda can, some small LED lights, a 12-volt DC motor, and some reflective tape, anyone can easily construct one of these lights in under an hour. Sure, pulling a Maglite out of your backpack while hiking makes you feel cool, but if you really want to wow your friends, show off your hand-cranking skills.

To help you build this innovative flashlight, we’ve gone ahead and sifted through Robo Hub’s walkthrough to piece together an exact build list. As is the case with most projects using a hot glue gun, we recommend having a general understanding of how to use a hot glue gun so as to avoid any injury. If you don’t feel comfortable, find someone to help or skip this project altogether. With that said, here’s what you’ll need to get started:


  • Hot glue gun with glue sticks
  • Reflective tape
  • 6-inch string of metal


  • 12-volt DC motor
  • Empty soda can
  • Pair of small LED lights with wires
  • Top of old soda bottle

With the necessary tools and materials at the ready, it’s now time to start piecing together this DIY hand-powered flashlight. Simply follow Robo Hub’s step-by-step Instructables walkthrough and in less than 30 minutes, you’ll have your very own elbow grease ready LED torch. Happy building!

The entire walkthrough for building this DIY hand-powered LED flashlight can be found over at Instructables.

Rick Stella
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Rick became enamored with technology the moment his parents got him an original NES for Christmas in 1991. And as they say…
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